Audio Shiurim by Eliyahu Gurevich on Tosefta Berachot and by Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer on Tosefta Bava Kamma have been updated through the end of 2016, on the Audio page.
Over the last few months Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer started giving a new shiur on Tosefta Bava Kamma. So far the first 18 shiurim have commenced and their audio recordings have been posted on the Audio page.
I have written earlier in the notes on Toseftot Berachot 4:8 and 5:5 about the Roman Symposium and how the Rabbis have adopted the structure of the Roman banquets for the Jewish meals. The vestiges of this structure can still be observed on the Pesach Seder, where we recline, wash hands, and dip. However, when I wrote about it last time I did not have a very good illustration of what the Roman symposium actually looked like. Recently, I came across a Roman mosaic from the 3rd-5th centuries CE that depicts the Roman symposium in great detail.
This mosaic was formerly in the Joseph Ziadé collection, Beirut, Lebanon during the 1950s. After that it was passed to his descendant Farid Ziadé. It was acquired from Farid Ziadé in 1982 and has been in a European private collection, since 2000. Currently it is on display at the Le Chateau de Boudry, Musee De La Vigne Et Du Vin in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
The mosaic is called Mosaic of a Symposium with Asarotos Oikos. Asarotos Oikos is the unswept floor with garbage that can be seen all over the floor of the dining room. Apparently the Romans threw their garbage and leftovers straight onto the floor and it did not get cleaned up until after the meal was over. I am not sure if the Jews in Roman Palestine did the same thing or not.
The mosaic shows nine men reclining on a semi-circular couch, known as a stibadum, in a triclinium (dining room). They are being served by seven male servants, who are clearly slaves. The scene shows the symposium being in progress, when the appetizers have been already served and eaten as implied by the scraps on the floor, but the main course (large birds) is just being served, as suggested by the scraps of food that cover the floor, as well as the look of drunk guests some of whom are partially undressed. You can tell the servants apart from the diners by their shaved heads with pony-tails, which was a common hair cut of Roman slaves of lower status. However, the central servant, who is about to carve one of the three birds on round tables, has long hair similar to the two central diners. He is a carver and was considered a servant of higher status, despite the fact that he was a slave as well. The garbage on the floor shows leftovers of various foods that were eaten as appetizers: fish heads, fish bones, shrimp heads, snail shells, mollusc shells, chicken bones and chicken claws, artichoke stems, leafy greens, and nuts.
A more detailed description of the mosaic can be read on the site of Phoenix Ancient Art Antiquities Dealer in Switzerland.
The Berlin National Library (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin) has posted online the Erfurt Manuscript of the Tosefta (Tosefta Ms Erfurt 12 – Staatsbibliothek (Preussischer Kulturbesitz) Or. fol. 1220) in high resolution full color.
The Erfurt Manuscript is the oldest extant manuscript of the Tosefta, although it is not complete. According to Saul Lieberman, in his introduction to his edition of the Tosefta, it was written sometime during the 12th century in Germany, by an Ashkenazi scribe. The Erfurt Manuscript contains the first four Sedarim (Zerayim, Moed, Nashim and Nezikin) of the Tosefta and the first four and a half chapters of Masechta Zevachim. After that the manuscript stops implying that it was never finished by the original scribe. It contains 226 folios, 222 of which is the Tosefta and the last 4 is some other material.
The history of the Erfurt manuscript is partially written on its last page and partially in the Memorial Book of the City of Erfurt. The gist of the receipt written on the last page of the manuscript is as follows. In the Jewish year 5020 (1260) it was owned by Rav Yakov Bar Simcha. This Rav Yakov owed some money to Rav Elazar Bar Yitzchak Halevi. A third of this manuscript, together with another book was given to a third party, Rav Yehudah Bar Shneur, to be held as collateral until Rav Yakov paid his debt to Rav Elazar. The story continues in the Memorial Book of the city of Erfurt, Germany. In the year 1362, the council of the city of Erfurt sold a bunch of Jewish manuscripts for 34 marks. Prior to that these manuscripts laid around for many years in the building of the city council in Erfurt, including during the Jewish pogroms in 1349 which followed the epidemic of Black Plague. In 1879, 16 of these manuscripts were found in the Erfurt Evangelical Church Library and among them was the manuscript of the Tosefta, labeled N.11V.12. In 1879 this collection of manuscripts was transferred to the German National Library in Berlin, where they remain today. The name of the Tosefta manuscript remains to be the Erfurt Manuscript, based on the city where it was originally found. The manuscript is labeled in the Berlin National Library as Staatsbibliothek (Preussischer Kulturbesitz) Or. fol. 1220.
The manuscript contains blood stains on it, which suggests that one of its owners was murdered or at least very hurt during some violent encounter, at which point the manuscript was taken away from him. I would suggest that it is very possible that this happened during one of Jewish pogroms in Germany, which is how the manuscript made its way to the Erfurt Evangelical Church, where the manuscripts stolen from Jews were collected. But this is only a theory.
Below is the folio 5 of the Erfurt Manuscript with the beginning of the Masechta Berachot: